The observer observed : Frontal EEG asymmetry and autonomic responses differentiate between another person´s direct and averted gaze when the face is seen live
Pönkänen, Laura M; Peltola, Mikko J; Hietanen, Jari K (2011)
Pönkänen, Laura M
Peltola, Mikko J
Hietanen, Jari K
International Journal of Psychophysiology 82 2
Yhteiskunta- ja kulttuuritieteiden yksikkö
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Recently, we showed that another person's gaze direction influenced the perceiver's frontal EEG asymmetry and autonomic arousal in response to freely viewed real faces, but not in response to face pictures. However, the lack of a task during the viewing may have resulted in less attention allocation to face pictures vs. live faces. In the present study, the participants performed two online tasks while viewing the faces presented live through an electronic shutter and as pictures on a computer screen. The results replicated those from our previous experiment showing that direct gaze elicited greater relative left-sided frontal EEG asymmetry and autonomic arousal than averted gaze but, again, only in the live condition. However, the results also showed that two live stimulus faces (male and female) elicited differential EEG asymmetry responses in our participants (all females), and the effects of gaze direction were observed only for the (live) female faces. The results suggest that the discriminative responses to live faces vs. pictures are likely to reflect the participants' enhanced mental-state attributions and self-awareness when looking at and being looked by live faces. Thus, the motivation- and affect-related psychophysiological responses to gaze direction are most discriminative in the presence of another person, regardless of whether the face/gaze is actively monitored or not.
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